He who fights may lose — he who doesn’t fight has already (almost) lost

Case No. O2015_017 ¦ Decision of 11 August 2016 ¦ “Beschriftungsmaschine für konische Teile: Gutheissung Nichtigkeitsklage; mangelnde Neuheit”

logo_itwThe defendant in this nullity case is Illinois Tool Works Inc. (NYSE: ITW), a Fortune 200 company that produces engineered fasteners and components, equipment and consumable systems, and specialty products. It employs approximately 48,000 people, with operations in 57 countries. 

madag_logoThe plaintiff is MADAG Printing Systems AG. The parties apparently have some common roots: The plaintiff has been established in 2003 and took over the hot-embossing business from ITW Decorating Systems AG (ITW DS; meanwhile liquidated), a connected undertaking of the defendant.

The patentee / defendant had sent a warning letter in early 2015, alleging that certain conduct of the plaintiff infringed EP 2 236 296 B1; see EPO Register and Swissreg for further bibliographic details of the patent at stake. The nullity suit was lodged in December 2015. MADAG alleged that ITW DS had sold five hot-embossing machines (“FAPA-EK”) to Schwan-Stabilo Cosmetics GmbH already back in the years 2001-2003, without any confidentiality obligations; and that the claimed subject-matter thus lacked novelty. This was supported by technical drawings, order- and delivery documentation, etc.

The defendant is based in the U.S. (Glenview, Illinois) and was served with the suit via diplomatic channels — but did not take up the fight. The plaintiff’s submission thus remained undisputed. The FPC held that there is no reason to doubt that the plaintiff’s allegations are correct; they are not unclear, contradictory, ambiguous or manifestly incomplete (Art. 56 CPC).

Zusammenfassend ist festzuhalten, dass es keine erheblichen Zweifel an der Richtigkeit der klägerischen Sachdarstellung gibt, die es angesichts der fortgesetzten Säumnis der Beklagten dem Gericht erlauben würden, einen anderen Schluss zu ziehen. Die Sachverhaltsdarstellung der Klägerin ist klar und unwiderprüchlich, bestimmt und nicht offensichtlich
unvollständig (Art. 56 ZPO).

The FPC followed the plaintiff’s assessment and held that the subject-matter of both independent claims 1 (device) and 11 (method) lacked novelty over the FAPA-EK machine. The defendant’s ostrich approach thus failed and the patent has been revoked.

The court fee was set to CHF 12’000,–, and a party compensation of CHF 20’000,– was awarded (CHF 10’000,– each for legal representation and expenses for the assistance of a patent attorney).

Reported by Martin WILMING

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Case No. O2015_017 ¦ Decision of 11 August 2016 ¦ “Beschriftungsmaschine für konische Teile: Gutheissung Nichtigkeitsklage; mangelnde Neuheit”

MADAG Printing Systems AG ./. Illinois Tool Works Inc.

Composition of the Board of the FPC:

  • Dr. Dieter BRÄNDLE
  • Dr. Tobias BREMI
  • Frank SCHNYDER

Court Clerk

  • Susanne ANDERHALDEN

Representative(s) of Plaintiff:

Representative(s) of Defendant:

  • n/a

DECISION IN FULL 

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2 Replies to “He who fights may lose — he who doesn’t fight has already (almost) lost”

  1. From Simon HOLZER’s comment on Kluwer Patent Blog I conclude that the writ had been correctly served to the defendant buth then has not been forwarded to the responsible person; see http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2017/03/13/13336/. If that is indeed the case, then not taking up the fight happened by accident, not intentionally. I cannot derive this from the decision itself, but this may well be the case, like in the Actelion ./. Icos case here: http://www.patentlitigation.ch/actelion-icos-supreme-court-ruling-on-service-of-process/

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